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1.4 million euros for graphene research

European Research Council rates research proposal as excellent

Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch, from the Department for Organic Chemistry 2 at Erlangen-Nuremberg University, and his research team received an “Advanced Investigator Grant” from the European Research Council (ERC). The research project “Graphenochem” will be supported with over 1.4 million euros over the next five years. The ERC only awards its Advanced Grants to research proposals assessed as pioneering and excellent.

When assessing a project for a grant, the ERC does not just look at the research proposal itself. Rather, it also examines the scientific environment at the “host institution”. This makes its support not just a great honour for the investigators directly involved in the project, but also for the university as a whole. The ERC’s experts classified the research proposal put forward by Prof. Hirsch’s group and the conditions at Erlangen-Nuremberg University as “exciting” and “excellent”. The project’s interdisciplinary nature and association with the university’s excellent system for promoting young academics were also central in securing the grant. Thus, in addition to researchers from Hirsch’s working group, personnel from the Physics, Material Sciences and Chemical and Bio Engineering departments and from the “Engineering of Advanced Materials” excellence cluster will also be involved. The Central Institute for New Materials and Process Technology will also be key. This is where Dr. Frank Hauke and PhD students Claudia Backes and Cordula Schmidt from Prof. Hirsch’s department work. Finally, the research team will also feature Jan Englert, a PhD student from the Graduate School Molecular Science.

The “Graphenochem” project will research the preparation and derivatisation of graphene in different phases. Graphene is a nano-material composed of a single planar atom sheet of graphite-configured carbon. The atoms form an ultra-thin layer, just one atom thick, and bind together in a honeycomb structure. Therefore, graphene represents the first truly two-dimensional crystal. This new material, which was first produced in 2004, is similar to the well-known single wall carbon nanotube (SWCNT) in that it is characterised by astonishing mechanical resilience and flexibility as well as outstanding conductivity. The latter is due to the almost massless nature of the electrons involved in electrical conductivity. Thanks to these properties, researchers expect graphene to lead to new developments in micro and nano-electronics, sensor and display technology.

Erlangen academics aim to enhance current mechanical and evaporation-based display methods with a scalable chemical procedure. Furthermore, in the latter stages of the project, modification and derivatisation of the material created will be studied for use in new materials. The production of soluble graphene is a key step in the production of transparent, electrically conductive polymers and printed electronics.

Further information for the media:

Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch
Tel.: 09131/85-22537
andreas.hirsch@chemie.uni-erlangen.de

uni | media service | research No. 60/2009 from 11.11.2009

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